PV Tech’s COVID-19 tracker: 30 March - 5 April

By PV Tech
Image: US Department of State.

This is the latest issue of PV Tech's COVID-19 tracker. See links ahead to browse our archives for all news and developments between January 2020 and 29 March 2020

Over its first few months of existence, the COVID-19 crisis has already wreaked major havoc across the world, and the solar industry has not been immune.

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From hampered flows of raw materials for manufacturers to component delays for developers, both upstream and downstream PV players have already felt the weight of the pandemic as it continues its global trek, infecting hundreds of thousands and sparking talk of a worldwide recession.

Only time can confirm what the long-term implications will be from what remains a still-maturing crisis. For now, however, PV Tech will keep an eye on reports on the ground and sound out industry players to share here the latest news and developments as they come, starting with the most recent. 

If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at [email protected] or [email protected].

Our sister titles Energy.Storage.News and Solar Power Portal have also launched similar trackers to map out COVID-19 impacts on the energy storage sector and the UK solar industry.  

India warns discoms not to curtail ‘must-run’ renewable projects

3 April 2020: India’s government has told distribution companies they must treat green energy projects as ‘must-run’ services and refrain from curtailment measures.

See here to read the Indian government’s statement in full

“This Ministry has received representations from [the] Renewable Energy industry that certain State DISCOMs … have started curtailing RE power in some states partially and others completely … The status of ‘must run’ [of RE plants] remains unchanged during the period of lockdown”—Indian government

COVID-19 and Spanish PV: Powen’s response

3 April 2020: Spanish self-consumption solar faces yet another “long road” to walk after years of struggle but could come out stronger in an era where energy self-sufficiency will be key, specialist Powen said in a recent webinar.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

UK energy reps welcome postponement of COP26 as world faces COVID-19

3 April 2020: The UK’s energy sector has welcomed the postponement of the COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow this year, with operators calling it “disappointing” but the “right decision”.

See here to read the full story on PV Tech’s sister title Current±

Pandemic-driven module price collapse may prove boon for subsidy-free solar

3 April 2020: Module pricing may not recover from the likely collapse driven by COVID-19 this year but this could aid subsidy-free proponents in the long run, Solar Media’s Finlay Colville has said.  

“We know one thing very clearly from the industry: when prices collapse, they do not recover to former levels,” said Colville in a blog post he penned for PV Tech’s sister title Solar Power Portal.

“This will only help in a zero-subsidy end-market that needs every last percentage of upfront capex to be taken out of projects,” Colville added.

See here to read Colville’s post in full on Solar Power Portal

UK solar's subsidy-free era: Solar Media's upcoming events and new data sets 

1. Utility Solar Summit UK: The challenges and opportunities of the new age of UK utility-scale solar growth will take centre stage at Solar Media's event, scheduled in London (United Kingdom) on 22-23 September 2020.

To learn more about the event's agenda, speakers, sponsorship opportunities and others, follow this link.

2. UK Large-Scale Solar Farms: The Post-Subsidy Prospect List: With global travel on hold indefinitely for now, many companies are seeking to fill the gap that such networking events traditionally offer. In this respect, simply knowing all sites in the pipeline and the key stakeholders to engage with remotely could be the best use of the next few months until build-out phasing is better known.

To find out how to access this list – updated monthly, details on how to subscribe to the report are listed here.

ENGIE to offer free electricity to under-construction healthcare units in Italy

3 April 2020: Energy giant ENGIE is to provide free electricity, gas and technical assistance for the set-up of new health units in Italy, one the countries worst affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

See here to read ENGIE’s statement and here for PV Tech’s coverage of the firm’s COVID-19 response

COVID-19 and Indian PV: Kerala renewables nervous of extended virus impacts

3 April 2020: Kerala’s renewable energy industry could be severely affected if measures to halt the coronavirus pandemic continue beyond three months, a local association has told PV Tech.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Off-grid players asked to map out COVID-19 impacts in industry survey

3 April 2020: Association SEforALL has urged off-grid specialists worldwide to help the segment gauge the pandemic’s implications by filling out a dedicated survey.

See here to read SEforALL’s statement in full

Socially distanced workers enable start for ‘Europe’s first ESS gigafactory’

3 April 2020: Isolated staff and semi-automated lines have made it possible to launch production of commercial energy storage systems at Tesvolt’s 255MWh-a-year German factory.

See here to read the full story on PV Tech’s sister title Energy-Storage.News

Batteries are fully charged and discharged during the inspection process at the Wittenberg plant. Image: Tesvolt.

UK’s second energy supplier OVO furloughs 3,400 staff

3 April 2020: The UK’s second largest energy supplier OVO Energy has furloughed 3,400 members of staff in response to COVID-19, PV Tech’s sister title Current± reports

See here to read the Current± story in full

Chile’s green energy players could end up shouldering costs of bill freezes

3 April 2020: Chile's move to freeze power bill payments could see distribution companies transfer costs to power generators, national green energy association ACERA has warned.

See here to read ACERA’s statement in full

Colombian PV enthusiast Celsia ramps up response to protect customers

3 April 2020: Colombian energy player and solar project developer Celsia is to halt the disconnection of users and ease payment rules to help customers deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

See here to read Celsia’s statement and here for PV Tech’s coverage on the firm’s solar moves

SNEC 2020 postponed with new dates set to be confirmed

2 April 2020: This year’s edition of SNEC – the world’s largest solar trade exhibition – has been postponed, the event’s organising committee has confirmed.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

IHS Markit expects slow solar recovery post COVID-19

2 April 2020: Taking a more pessimistic view of the impact of COVID-19 on the end-market demand for solar installations in 2020, IHS Markit expects global installs to decline 16% to 105GW in 2020, compared to around 125GW in 2019.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Graph source: IHS Markit

COVID-19: Latest analysis on impact to US residential and utility-scale solar

2 April 2020: ROTH Capital and Wood Mackenzie analysts have updated their outlooks on COVID-19's potential impacts on the US residential and utility-scale solar markets, respectively.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

COVID-19 and Indian PV: Energy demand plunge could indirectly boost C&I solar

2 April 2020: The drops in energy demand seen in India due to the COVID-19 lockdown could draw out favourable conditions for C&I solar firms, PV Tech has heard from sector players.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

France confirms COVID-19 solar reprieve amid flurry of auction results

2 April 2020: The French government has formally sanctioned plans to help green energy players against COVID-19, easing auction rules as it awarded hundreds of new tender contracts.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

The new 288 winners of France’s COVID-era green energy auctions

Technology Number of winning projects Total capacity awarded Average tariffs
Ground-mount solar 88 projects 649MWp €62.11 / MWh
Solar repowering of old nuclear site 12 projects 94.2MWp €55.78-98.5 / MWh
Innovative solar 39 projects 104MWp €82.8 / MWh
Self-consumption solar 30 projects 11.8MWp €15.97 / MWh
Solar on Corsica and overseas territories 84 projects 101.7MWp €44.1-108.2 / MWh
Onshore wind 35 projects 749.3MW €62.9 / MWh
Source: French Environment Ministry

ENGIE pulls 2020 guidance as COVID-19 looms over green energy pipeline

2 April 2020: ENGIE has put its forecasts of a bullish 2020 on ice as impacts of the COVID-19 crisis start trickling down to its operations, including potential “constraints” for green energy projects.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

COVID-19 shutdown pushes German renewables past 50% share in first for country

2 April 2020: A tanking economy and the industrial phase-down forced by the COVID-19 crisis in March helped German renewables cover 52% of domestic power use in Q1 2020, new figures show.

See here to read the joint release by ZSW and BDEW

Vattenfall donates 400,000 COVID-19 masks to health care workers

2 April 2020: Vattenfall used delivery service Bring last Friday to give away 400,000 sanitary masks to health care workers in Sweden, coupled with hand sanitiser and transparent film.

See here to read Vattenfall’s statement in full

Some 200 boxes carried the 400,000 masks from Vattenfall offices in Norrköping to Swedish emergency stockpiles. Image credit: Vattenfall

Solar helps keep lights on at hospitals battling COVID-19 in Chile’s Atacama

2 April 2020: PV panels are currently powering operations at some of the health centres dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in Chile, the Energy Ministry said in a recent release

See here to read the Chilean Energy Ministry’s release in full

Solar and wind a low-risk ‘haven’ for pandemic-wary investors – WSJ

2 April 2020: Green energy assets including solar and wind plants are luring investors keen on “low-risk, stable-yield” refuge as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, according to the Wall Street Journal.

See here to read the Wall Street Journal story in full

Puerto Rico solar ramps up safety to preserve ‘essential’ resource in COVID-19 crisis

2 April 2020: Puerto Rico’s solar and energy storage body SESA-PR has vowed to ensure “remote and safety” measures are adopted to protect customers on the island, where both renewable technologies are seen as essential to rebuild a grid battered by hurricane Maria in 2017.

See here to read SESA-PR’s statement in full and here for previous PV Tech coverage of Puerto Rico's solar-and-storage opportunity

Panasonic to extend shutdown at Buffalo factory as worker contracts COVID-19 – reports

2 April 2020: Japanese group Panasonic is to prolong its shutdown at the Buffalo solar plant alongside Tesla for another two weeks after a positive COVID-19 test, The Verge reports

See here to read The Verge’s story in full and here for PV Tech's latest on the Buffalo solar plant

Aussie PV installers told to ‘go all-in’ with COVID-19 control or ‘shut up shop’

2 April 2020: Australia’s residential PV installers have been warned by the Smart Energy Council to take COVID-19 control measures seriously or “shut up shop”, One Step Off The Grid reports.

See here to read the One Step Off The Grid story in full

COVID-19 and French PV: Industry keeps eye on the long game

1 April 20: Paris must use crisis as a chance to slash red-tape if it hopes to restart the PV sector and reach steep growth targets, SER-SOLER chair Xavier Daval has said in an interview with PV Tech.

See here to read the PV Tech interview in full

“We want to make sure France benefits from the drop in oil prices to highlight the bottlenecks that exist in our energy system…We’re a very administrative country by nature but if we want to quickly come back [after COVID-19], we will have to sacrifice some of this”—Xavier Daval, chair of SER-SOLER

#EUGreenRecovery: PV joins calls for green European COVID-19 comeback

1 April 2020: A letter signed by SolarPower Europe and 31 other associations has urged EU lawmakers to link economic relief plans with the European Green Deal.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

COVID-19 paralyses new construction work of UK storage player

1 April 2020: Gore Street Energy Storage Fund has halted all under-construction assets after completing a 10MW project in Essex, PV Tech’s sister title Solar Power Portal reports

See here to read the Solar Power Portal story in full

COVID-19 and Indian PV: ACME talks curtailment and construction risks

1 April 2020: Under-construction large PV plants are likely to feel the most profound impact from India’s COVID-19 lockdown, ACME Solar’s CEO warned in a new interview with PV Tech.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

“Right now, in India, it’s a 21-day shutdown. I’m hoping and praying that it doesn’t go beyond it because for a country like India a prolonged shutdown like this will have a very deep impact on its economy”—Sidharath Kapur, CEO of ACME Solar.

Renewable industry to finance first MIT-designed ventilators in Chile

1 April 2020: Chilean green energy body ACERA is to bankroll the production of the country’s first batch of ventilators, devised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for COVID-19 patients.

See here to read the Revista Electricidad story in full

Shell-backed offgrid investor All On sponsors PV-powered hospitals in Nigeria

1 April 2020: Shell-backed offgrid player All On will provide 180 million Nigerian naira (US$460,000) to firms installing solar across COVID-19 emergency health centres in the African state.

See here to read the AgroNature Nigeria story in full

COVID-19 and Spanish PV: Ingeteam’s response

1 April 2020: Inverter maker Ingeteam used a webinar this week to discuss its steps against so far against COVID-19 and views on how the broader solar industry will be transformed by the crisis.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full and here for PV Tech’s coverage of the webinar

“I’d like to see how everyone in this chain, from manufacturers to installers, builders, owners and financiers, accepts this as a stop. Because if one doesn’t, then it forces the other [to follow suit] … Whereas if we all stop the measure will be more effective and we’ll all be back sooner”—Juan Carlos Jadraque, Solar PV Area director at Ingeteam.

FiT completion deadline for community solar extended due to COVID-19 delays

1 April 2020: UK community energy projects have been given a six-month extension to complete and register feed-in tariff projects to help counter COVID-19 delays, PV Tech’s sister title Solar Power Portal reports.

See here to read the Solar Power Portal story in full

Dutch solar hails new COVID-19 safety protocol for construction workers

1 April 2020: Dutch industry body Holland Solar has welcomed the government’s publication of a new Safe Working Together protocol, setting out rules covering solar installers and others.

See here to read Holland Solar’s statement in full

COVID-19 brings ‘indefinite’ delays for Brazil’s solar-friendly auctions

31 March 2020: The COVID-19 crisis has pushed gigawatts-worth of solar bids into administrative limbo in one of Latin America’s most buoyant markets, with tenders cancelled without new dates yet in sight.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

The green energy bidders in limbo as COVID-19 puts Brazil’s auctions on hold

Renewable energy source A-4 bids (in number of projects) A-4 bids (in project capacity)
Solar 794 projects 28.66GW
Wind 659 projects 20GW
Biomass 21 projects 1.14GW
Small hydro 39 projects 591MW
Source: Figures for A-4 bidding volumes from energy regulator EPE

Arctech Solar to donate 10,000 COVID-19 masks for PV workers worldwide

31 March 2020: Jiangsu-headquartered solar rack and tracker manufacturer Arctech Solar is to donate 10,000 surgical masks for solar workers outside of China.

See here to read Arctech Solar's statement on Twitter

Spanish solar talks life under COVID-19 as decree freezes project construction

31 March 2020: A webinar by Spanish PV body UNEF has opened a window into how PV makers, investors and EPCs are adapting to the pandemic, as factories and construction work stop temporarily.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Explainer: Which PV workers are out (and which are in) under Spain’s Real Decreto-ley 10/2020

Last Sunday (29 March 2020), Spanish government president Pedro Sánchez adopted a decree listing the non-essential sectors that must keep workers home between 30 March 2020 and 9 April 2020, both days included.

Spain will grant these confined workers a “recoverable, retributed” allowance that will preserve the pay they were entitled to over the period. Once the 10-day restrictions are phased out, staff can discuss with firms how the lost hours will be recovered over the rest of 2020.

Legal analysis by Spanish solar association UNEF, seen by PV Tech, concludes the impacts will differ across solar segments:

Solar power generation: The status of energy supply as an essential service means workers running and maintaining power plants are exempted from the stay-at-home decree, according to UNEF. The association advised however to limit these activities to the level strictly necessary to guarantee power supply.

Solar plant construction: The inclusion of broader construction activities within the decree’s scope means solar building works will have to freeze activities and send staff home for 10 days, UNEF said. Article 4 of the decree may allow for minimal exemptions but it is “reasonable” to assume these won’t apply to ventures such as solar projects, the association added.

Solar component factories: The decree does foresee exemptions for essential manufacturing segments. However, UNEF said it is “hard” to see how Spanish authorities could agree that exempting PV factories from the 10-day lockdown would prove essential to guaranteeing power supply.

Australia's energy regulators to revise market reform in joint COVID-19 response

31 March 2020: Australian energy regulators AER, AEMC and AEMO may slow down the pace of market reforms to give the industry some breathing space to deal with COVID-19 impacts.

See here to read the regulators’ joint statement in full

Enel to monitor 3GW Spanish green energy fleet via new centre in Galicia

31 March 2020: Enel Green Power will oversee its solar and wind plants in Spain via a new control centre in the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela, replicating its existing Madrid facility.

“By duplicating the Madrid control centre in this way”, parent Endesa said in a statement, the goal is to minimise the impacts of a possible coronavirus outbreak among its operators.

See here to read the full statement of Enel’s parent company Endesa

The new centre at Santiago de Compostela will allow to monitor a 3GW fleet of wind and solar assets, split between 2,600 generation units nationwide. Image credit: Endesa

Intersolar Europe 2020 cancelled as COVID-19 crisis intensifies

30 March 2020: Europe's top solar event has been postponed until 2021 as the continent grapples with the COVID-19 outbreak, organisers Solar Promotion GmbH and FWTM GmbH have announced.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

UK’s National Grid adopts ‘stringent’ measures to protect key workers

30 March 2020: National Grid, which operates the UK’s electricity transmission system, has revealed that some of its engineers are continuing to upgrade and maintain key infrastructure having been deemed ‘key workers’ in the country.

The transmission system operator confirmed on Twitter that some of its staff were continuing to work in the field despite the country enacting strict lockdown measures last week.

While most professionals in the UK have been urged to work from home if possible and stay indoors during the COVID-19 outbreak, those working in certain industries – deemed key workers – are exempt.

But there remains some confusion as to what constitutes a key worker, with many companies in the energy sector uncertain as to whether those conducting any installation or O&M activities are allowed to continue working under the guise of working in critical infrastructure. The UK’s Solar Trade Association and other parties continue to liaise with the government’s Cabinet Office in search of clarity on the issue.

Solar asks for key role as EU embeds green principles into COVID-19 pushback

30 March 2020: EU solar operators have welcomed a move by the bloc’s leaders to ensure green principles guide the EU's pandemic response, amid claims PV should be a core part of efforts.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

COVID-19: Currency fallout to ‘wipe out’ global momentum of PV, wind in 2020

30 March 2020: The COVID-19 crisis will this year push solar growth back to 2019 levels as project returns are hurt by having to fund orders with a value-soaring US dollar, experts have warned.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

“The foreign exchange impact will decimate the 2021 outlook for solar installations and the outlook from 2022 and beyond for wind installations, as orders for new equipment will halt from currency-hit emerging countries, which would otherwise account for much of this growth“—Rystad Energy

JinkoSolar to donate one million face masks

30 March 2020: JinkoSolar is to donate one million face masks to countries hardest hit by COVID-19, the module manufacturer disclosed today.

The masks will be distributed to countries across the US, Europe and Asia, the first batch of which will be delivered to health care institutions.

“Drawing from China’s experience, adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals, self-discipline isolation and strict compliance with local regulations are the most effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” said Kangping Chen, CEO of JinkoSolar, said.

Trina bids to reassure European clients

30 March 2020: Trina Solar has sought to reassure its clients that it is doing all it can to contain the virus.

In an email to customers signed by Gonzalo de la Viña, head of the firm’s European module business, Trina said its employees in Europe were working remotely but continue to be “available for business”.

In the letter, De La Viña says that while Trina’s factories continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 outbreak – albeit at a reduced capacity – the firm lays claim to having had no reported instances of the virus afflicting any employee.

Think tank: German’s COVID-19 response risks energy supplier bankruptcies

30 March 2020: Germany could be inviting energy supplier bankruptcies by denying the sector the economic protections it is offering customers over the COVID-19 crisis, bne has said.

See here to read bne’s statement in full

Dutch solar repeats calls for subsidy deadline extensions as COVID-19 looms

30 March 2020: Dutch trade body Holland Solar has ramped up calls for a one-year extension to commissioning deadlines for subsidy-backed projects, amid talk of worsening impacts.

See here to read the full statement from Holland Solar, NVDE and EWEA

“The shortage of manpower is the biggest problem and to a lesser extent the shortage of material. Flying in foreign staff is currently not possible”—Holland Solar

Argentina taps solar project containers to equip COVID-19 field hospital

30 March 2020: Containers used for Argentina’s largest solar project, 300MW Cauchari, have been repurposed to carry equipment of an under-construction COVID-19 field hospital.

See here to read Jujuy governor’s statement on Twitter

Australia urged to protect rooftop PV as ‘essential service’ amid COVID-19 restrictions

30 March 2020: Consultants at Solar Analytics have signed a letter urging federal and state authorities in Australia to treat rooftop PV as an essential service as they mull working restrictions.

See here to read Solar Analytics’ statement in full

NextEnergy closes Mexican solar debut despite ‘difficult’ business climate

30 March 2020: Investor NextEnergy Capital has bought the first stage of a 108MWp solar project in Mexico, billing the move as an execution win despite the “current difficult business climate”.

See here to read NextEnergy’s statement and here for PV Tech’s interview with the firm in January

PV Tech’s resource library

PV Tech has a wealth of in-depth articles and resources to keep you engaged in the solar sector throughout any period of isolation. Every volume of PV Tech Power, our downstream solar PV-focused journal, can be downloaded entirely for free here. We also have a collection of webinars conducted over the last four years which can be viewed on demand here, and an exhaustive list of technical papers from both our own in-house editorial team and esteemed industry professionals, which can be accessed here.

Altius' solar investees enjoying 'strong interest' from project suitors despite COVID-19

30 March 2020: Royalties investor Altius has said the solar and wind players it backs report “strong interest” from project suitors, amid claims supply delays will not hurt eventual returns.

See here to read Altius’ statement in full

Spain's Grenergy donates COVID-19 protective gear to Madrid public workers

30 March 2020: Spanish renewable developer Grenergy is to hand out 55,000 COVID-19 protective items including sanitary masks amongst Madrid’s police officers, fire patrols and others.

See here to read Grenergy’s statement in full

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